FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Earlier this season, Blake Corum couldn’t be stopped in the open field. During the Michigan football team’s Week 3 win over Washington, the sophomore running back even threw up a celebratory peace sign after outrunning the Huskies’ entire defense — things were that easy.
But when it looked like Corum had another breakaway touchdown run late in the season, this time against Ohio State, he was tripped up from behind by a defensive back.
The difference? Corum suffered a high ankle sprain at the end of his first carry during the Wolverines’ win over Indiana on Nov. 6.
The sprain sidelined him for three weeks, and even when he returned against the Buckeyes, he clearly wasn’t at full strength. Despite a 68-yard touchdown run against Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game the following week, his injury hadn’t completely healed yet.
Now, with the second-ranked Wolverines practicing in Fort Lauderdale ahead of their College Football Playoff matchup against No. 3 Georgia, Corum’s ankle is no longer a concern.
“You know, personally I feel great,” Corum said Monday. “I feel like my ankle is finally back. I feel like I have my cutting ability, my speed and my top-end speed, my burst. I feel like I have all that back.”
Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis echoed a similar sentiment.
“Blake is healthy,” Gattis said. “… We’re excited to finally get a chance to see a full-speed Blake Corum. I think a little bit of what people saw about him in the Big Ten Championship Game was him catching himself back up to full strength, and he’s ready to go, he’s excited, and we’re glad to have him back to 100 percent.”
Corum, who sits just 61 yards shy of 1,000 rushing yards on the season, adds a valuable dimension of speed and quickness to the Wolverines’ offense. He averages 6.7 yards per carry and 6.9 yards per reception, while he has also found the end zone 12 times this season.
In Corum’s absence, senior running back Hassan Haskins managed an increased workload. The bruiser saw 123 carries in the five games when Corum was either out or limited. While Haskins put up efficient numbers, his contact-first running style is a far cry from Corum’s open-field jukes and spin moves.
Now that Corum is back to full health, Michigan’s backfield can once again live up to its “thunder and lightning” nickname. And with a stout Bulldogs’ front seven on the horizon, that could make all the difference.